Photo by Michael Graham
It's coming up on seven years since I waved good-bye to Corona del Mar. I still remember driving out of the affluent beach village in my silver VW. My reasons for moving made sense; however, I didn't plan on going back anytime soon, fearing I would regret my decision the moment the smell of saltwater hit my nose.
I wouldn't return until five years later. In Southern California, that's like the equivalent of fifteen years. Mike drove me down there shortly after we got together. But it wasn't the homecoming I imagined. I felt completely out of sorts. Out of my element. Out of excuses as to why I stayed away for so long. I had self-exiled myself from my sanctuary, and now it just made me feel sad.
So I stayed away some more. Then went back again and felt better. And in late June, I asked Mike if we could go down on the sand. I hadn't been on the beach since around September of o' nine! This from a gal who had literally spent nearly every day down on the shore for seven years straight!
After dropping Marissa off for an early Saturday morning shift at Disney California Adventure, we went for breakfast at another happiest place on Earth― Flappy Jacks! You might have seen our feast from our first dining experience back in December of '14. From there, we jumped on the freeway and stopped by McDonald's in Newport Beach. No, not for Second Breakfast. Our Little One chose that day to not only camp out ― but also colonize on my bladder and not budge. We were on our way quickly and by eight-thirty parking at Big Corona State Beach ― where huge waves were pounding the coast. The auditory and imagery reminded me that I had to pee every five minutes.
As I skipped along the shore (not really, but it sounds cuter than waddled), I spied a pair of spectacles in the sand. I pulled out my camera and Mike immediately went to work. And it all started rushing back to me as to why I loved that beach. It inspired and motivated me each day to be creative in some way. It's where my daughter learned to swim in strong ocean currents with the strongest swimmers we'd ever met. The same swimmers who also taught her to play chess as they sunbathed. It's where we formed a beach family comprised of multimillionaires, the homeless, and everyone in between ― but had now been disbanded by death and distance. We had been as familiar a fixture down by the water as the rock formation we would all sit in front of.
I wanted so much to share these memories and more with Mike of what made living there so special for me. I suppose I was able to in a sense when he commented on how happy I looked. And it meant so much that I was now there with the man I love and our baby growing inside me.
Across Newport harbor we could see wicked waves breaking at The World Famous Wedge (scroll back a bit in my Instagram feed for video clips). So we decided to cruise over to Balboa Peninsula before heading back home. Big wave events always draws massive crowds, but the sea gods smiled down on us and we found a spot to park right by West Jetty Park next to The Wedge.
I hadn't ever spent much time at The Wedge. I was always quite content watching the storied south swells from China Cove. But after standing on the shore, feeling the spray from the sets rolling in, I could understand the adrenaline rush of being so close. For all the years of living by the sea, I told myself to never not appreciate nature's acts like the one we were witnessing at The Wedge. I admit, there were times I almost became accustomed to them before once again becoming more amazed.
As I stood there with the waves breaking on the shore, spilling up on the sand and the foamy sea water swirling around my ankles, I felt I were being baptized with a rekindled faith in what I could accomplish. I walked away from there in total awe of what awaits.
Looking across at China Cove & Pirates Cove Beach in CdM from West Jetty Park on Balboa Peninsula.
Father & Son fishing in Newport Harbor. Pirates Cove & Corona del Mar State Beach in background.
Boats sailing out to sea via Newport Harbor. The jetty & Corona del Mar State Beach is visible as well.
- e.e. cummings